Matrox releases DS1, allows Thunderbolt-equipped Macs and PC notebooks desktop range of ports

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Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012, 05:17
Category: Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Peripheral

You can’t knock a good peripheral device.

Per AppleInsider, Matrox on Sunday unveiled its new DS1 Thunderbolt docking station, which allows users to add multiple peripherals like an HDMI display, a full-size keyboard and a mouse to a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac or PC and will be available this September for US$249.

The DS1 also includes a gigabit Ethernet port that provides connectivity to wired corporate networks at data transfers 18 times faster than Wi-Fi. In addition, it has a high-speed USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a microphone input, and a speaker/headphone output, all of which can connect to a Thunderbolt MacBook or Ultrabook with just one cable.



The Matrox DS1 will be showcased at the Computex Taipei 2012 event at Intel’s official booth, located at M0410 in the NanGang Exhibition Hall.

Also set to arrive in September is Belkin’s Thunderbolt Express Dock, which was announced earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show. It will also turn a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac into a full-fledged desktop workstation with an HDMI port, FireWire 800 port, three USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5-millimeter audio port, one gigabit Ethernet port, and two Thunderbolt ports for daisy-chaining to another Thunderbolt device.

Apple also offers the Thunderbolt Display, which lets users plug in one 10Gbps Thunderbolt cable to drive a monitor, three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel releases 14 low-voltage Ivy Bridge CPUs

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Date: Friday, June 1st, 2012, 05:30
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Processors

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It’s just a question of when Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors arrive within an updated MacBook Air notebook.

Per Engadget, Intel on Thursday announced 14 new Ivy Bridge processors, four of which are ultra-low voltage chips that could find their way into Apple’s updated MacBook Air lineup.

All of the ultra-low voltage lineup has two cores and four threads running at 17 watts thermal power design, along with integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000.

Leading off the new batch of Intel’s third-generation processors is the i7-3667U, with a CPU base frequency of 2 gigahertz running as fast as 3.2 gigahertz with Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 Max Frequency, and 4 megabytes of L3 cache. Next down the lists the i7-3517U, which has a base speed of 1.9 gigahertz that ramps up to 3 gigahertz, along with 4 megabytes of L3 cache.

The lower-end Core i5 ultra-low voltage Ivy Bridge CPUs are led by the i5-3427U, which has a base frequency of 1.8 gigahertz that runs as fast as 2.8 gigahertz with Intel Turbo Boost, with 3 megabytes of L3 cache. And the lowest ultra-low voltage CPU announced Thursday is the i5-3317U, with a base frequency of 1.7 gigahertz, max frequency of 2.6 gigahertz, and 3 megabytes of L3 cache.



All of Intel’s Ivy Bridge “Ultra Processors” have support for PCIe Generation 3, as well as Intel’s Secure Key, OS Guard, AES/TXT/vPro and Virtualization technology.

The MacBook Air lineup was last updated nearly a year ago, in July of 2011. The notebooks were equipped with Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors, and gained backlit keyboards and Thunderbolt ports.

Also announced by Intel on Thursday were a handful of dual-core traditional mobile chips that could find their way into other products in Apple’s Mac lineup, specifically the low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro, or the Mac mini. The Core i5 and Core i7 mobile processors run at 35W TDP, feature four threads, include Intel HD Graphics 4000, and range in speed from 3.1 gigahertz to 3.6 gigahertz with Intel Turbo Boost.

Intel launched its first batch of Ivy Bridge processors in late April, declaring them the “world’s first 22-nanometer product.” A total of 13 high-end quad-core chips were released in the first round, and it’s believed some of them could make their way into Apple’s updated MacBook Pro lineup.

Rumors have suggested that Apple plans to launch new Macs at its forthcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, which will kick off on June 11. Some reports have indicated that Apple will unveil new MacBook Pros and iMacs at the event, but little has been said of an impending MacBook Air refresh.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Production effort towards 2012 MacBooks creating labor shortage in/around China

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Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:34
Category: Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The good news is that Apple’s 2012 notebooks seem to be under construction.

The bad news is that this doesn’t really help the regional labor markets.

Per DigiTimes, anticipated demand for Apple’s redesigned line of 2012 MacBooks is reportedly so strong that the company’s Far Eastern component suppliers are facing a labor shortage as they race to produce enough parts to supply the Mac maker’s production lines.

The publication added that the shortages come in the face of preemptive efforts by some of the suppliers to outsource production of their component orders in order to be able to meet the “strong orders from Apple” for the new notebooks, due “in the near future.”

“Component manufacturing plants in eastern China have been suffering from labor shortages for a long time, and although May and June are the IT industry’s traditional slow season when shortage issues are usually not as significant, the strong orders from Apple’s new MacBook are leaving many upstream makers unable to satisfy demand.”

Some of these part suppliers began delivering their first wave of components for the company’s new MacBooks as early as April, with shipments for the notebooks’ new chassis reportedly increasing this month. The supply chain is expected to ramp even faster next month ahead of a ‘possible launch’ of the computers by Apple in July.

In total, DigiTimes said suppliers expect Apple’s total MacBook orders in 2012 to jump from 12.79 million in 2011 to between 16.24 and 19.2 million in 2012 — a run rate that would see Apple sell an average of over 4 million notebook systems each quarter. By comparison, Apple sold an average of 3.2 million notebook systems per quarter in 2011.

The report did not mention anything regarding an updated MacBook Air notebook or a completely redesigned line of MacBook Pros that have long been reported to adopt similar enclosures and design traits.

However, a quick analysis of the production figures outline in the article suggests the sources are referring to combined production of both new MacBook families, as Apple in January reported total sales of 12.87 million notebook systems during calendar year 2011, which roughly coincides with the 12.79 million production figure.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple approaches Genesys to supply USB 3.0 chips for next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 06:06
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, Rumor

This could prove useful.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is said to have inked a deal with Genesys Logic for USB 3.0 card reader controller chips.

The integrated-circuit design house will provide the USB 3.0 chips for Apple’s next-generation MacBook Air models, which will be released in the second half of 2012, DigiTimes reported on Monday. Overall shipments of USB 3.0 products are expected to take off in 2012 with the launch of Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which are also expected to be found in Apple’s next Macs.

Genesys Logic manufactures the GL3220 Card Reader Controller, a USB 3.0 complaint chip which can support various types of memory cards. Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air includes a dedicated SD card reader, which would make it an ideal fit for the new chips.

The card reader controller allows for a system’s internal SD card slot to connect to a system’s onboard USB 3.0 controllers. The rumored deal with Gensys and Apple could suggest that Apple plans to add USB 3.0 support to its future MacBooks.

Last year, Apple launched its first Macs with the new high-speed Thunderbolt port, which the company co-designed with Intel. Thunderbolt support is set to come to Windows PCs this year, as Intel views it and USB 3.0 as complementary technologies, with support for both built in to Ivy Bridge processors.

Formerly code-named “Light Peak,” Thunderbolt’s data transfer speeds are 20 times faster than the current, widely available USB 2.0 specification. Thunderbolt’s 10Gbps speeds are even twice as fast as USB 3.0.

Last September it was rumored that Apple was investigating USB 3.0 support with new Mac hardware. The third-generation of USB is backward compatible with the previous generation of devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release aggressively-priced $799 MacBook Air to compete with second-gen Intel Ultrabook

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Date: Monday, May 7th, 2012, 06:52
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

When in doubt, get competitive.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is rumored to be planning to aggressively combat new “Ultrabook” notebooks coming to market by releasing a US$799 MacBook Air model in the third quarter of 2012, a price US$200 less than the company’s current cheapest model.

The claim came on Monday and cited sources in Apple’s upstream supply chain. Apple’s plans are reportedly to counter second-generation Ultrabooks, based on Intel’s specifications for thin and light notebooks, which PC makers hope to price around US$699.

If PC makers are unable to reach the $699 price point with their second-generation Ultrabooks, Apple could have a significant competitive advantage with an aggressive US$799 price point for a new MacBook Air, the report claims.

Currently, Apple’s cheapest notebook option is the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which is priced at US$999 and comes with a 64-gigabyte solid-state hard drive. Apple also offers a stripped-down 13-inch MacBook Air for education buyers only for US$999.

Last month, it was said that Intel hopes to see shipments of as many as 30 million Ultrabooks this year. The company designed the Ultrabook specification after Apple found great success with its new MacBook Air, which features only solid-state storage, instant-on capabilities, and super-thin design thanks to the lack of an optical drive.

Apple is expected to begin revamping its Mac lineup in the coming weeks with Intel’s latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors. The product makeover is expected to begin with new MacBook Pros, starting with a 15-inch model, that will also rely on solid-state storage and lose an optical drive, taking design cues from the MacBook Air.

Prior to Monday’s report, little has been said of a new MacBook Air lineup, with most rumors focusing on Apple’s next MacBook Pros. In fact, one report even suggested that Apple could merge the two product lines, “effectively killing the Pro” and having all of its notebooks like MacBook Airs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Intel to announce Ivy Bridge architecture on April 23rd

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Date: Thursday, April 12th, 2012, 07:18
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Processors

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There’s gotta be some truth to this somewhere…

Per DigiTimes, Intel has moved up the announcement of its next-generation Ivy Bridge processors from the original date of April 29 to April 23 as PC makers ready the second generation of ultrabooks, expected to arrive in May.

The publication claimed on Thursday that sources from notebook players had revealed Intel’s change in plans. The launch comes as Asustek, Acer, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard are expected to release Ivy Bridge-powered ultrabooks next month.

Multiple sources have pointed to late April for the Ivy Bridge launch. One report claimed late last month that Intel would announce the new processors between April 22 and April 28 and begin selling them on April 29.

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pros will likely be the first Macs to feature the new Intel chips. Sources out of the Far East said last month that the updated laptops could arrive by the end of April.

Following the release of its new notebooks, the Cupertino, Calif., company is expected to release updated Ivy Bridge iMacs as early as June or July.

Other hints that Intel is nearly ready to release its Ivy Bridge architecture also came on Thursday when reports surfaced that Intel is shipping its second-generation Thunderbolt controllers for use with Ivy Bridge chips.

Thursday’s report also quoted Intel vice president Kirk Skaugen as saying that ultrabook prices will fall from US$999 to US$699 in the new few months as volume shipments drive costs down. PC makers have been hard at work at reducing the average price of ultrabook laptops in order to better compete against Apple’s MacBook Air.

Intel declared earlier this month that ultrabooks trump the MacBook Air in functionality and value.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release 15-inch MacBook Air this April, thereby ‘effectively killing the Pro’

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Date: Wednesday, March 14th, 2012, 07:57
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

Even if it’s just a rumor, there’s often a nugget of truth in there somewhere.

Per Electricpig, rumors of a larger 15-inch MacBook Air continue to surface, with the latest claim suggesting Apple is gearing up to launch a larger ultraportable notebook in April.

A Mac accessory maker who spoke at the CU Exposed show this week indicated that Apple is “likely” to launch its 15-inch MacBook Air in April. The anonymous source said the thin-and-light notebook would be similar to current MacBook Air models, with ports on both sides and no optical drive or Ethernet port.

The vendor reportedly speculated that the new 15-inch MacBook Air would “effectively (kill) the (MacBook) Pro for the average consumer.” They suggested that the new MacBook Air could even replace the 15-inch MacBook Pro, leaving the “Pro” moniker only to Apple’s high-end 17-inch model.

Whether Apple’s new 15-inch ultra-thin notebook is known as a “Pro” or an Air,” the model has been rumored since last year. While it will lack an optical drive, as Apple continues its push for digital distribution of software through the Mac App Store, the new notebooks will be powered by Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which are scheduled to go on sale in the coming months.

Wednesday’s claim of a 15-inch MacBook Air launch next month comes on the heels of a separate rumor that claimed Apple was forced to drop Nvidia’s next-generation “Kepler” graphics processors from its next low- and mid-range MacBook upgrades, leaving the systems to rely on Intel’s integrated graphics solutions. Currently, Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro models use Intel HD Graphics 3000, but the company’s higher-end 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros feature dedicated graphics processors from AMD.

A thinner and lighter 15-inch MacBook Pro without a dedicated graphics card could be difficult to differentiate from a 15-inch MacBook Air, which is why the anonymous accessory maker sees Apple “effectively killing the Pro” model. In anticipation of an upcoming MacBook refresh, their company’s manufacturers are reportedly prepared to build and ship a new product in less than 90 days.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases firmware updates for early and late 2011 MacBook Pro, mid-2011 MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 18:11
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released firmware updates for its early and late 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks as well as its mid-2011 MacBook Air Notebooks.

MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.7, a 4.1 megabyte download, fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Pro (Early 2011) and MacBook Pro (Late 2011) computers and is recommended for all users.

This update improves the reliability of booting from the network, addresses an issue that can prevent HDCP authentication after a reboot, and resolves an issue with boot device selection when a USB storage device is hot-plugged.

MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.4, a 3 megabyte download, fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Air (Mid 2011) computers and is recommended for all users.

This update improves the reliability of booting from the network, addresses an issue that can prevent HDCP authentication after a reboot, and resolves an issue with boot device selection when a USB storage device is hot-plugged.

The updates can be directly downloaded and installed or located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

As always, if you’ve tried the new firmware updates and have either positive or negative feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Tipsters reveal hints as to why AMD “Llano” processor never came to MacBook Air notebook

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Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 07:34
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Processors

If you wondered as to where the next-gen AMD processors might be on your MacBook Air, there’s a reason for that too.

According to Forbes, former AMD employees revealed that Apple gave its “Llano” chip a “close look” for a new MacBook Air model last year, but ultimately decided not to go with the processor because too many of its parts were faulty.

AMD has been through several reinventions in recent years in a quest to find a niche to call its own. The company was an early competitor to chip giant Intel, but it has struggled to keep up pace with its rival as of late.

Brian Caulfield reports that new “fusion” processors from AMD had a shot at upstaging Intel by making their way into Apple’s popular MacBook Air notebook for last year’s refresh. People familiar with the matter indicated that Apple had given the “Llano” processor, which combined the CPU and GPU into one part, serious consideration for use in its thin-and-light portable.

However, a former employee indicated that AMD was unable to get early working samples of the chip to Apple on time, though tipsters disagreed on exactly how close the company was to delivering the chip, with one claiming that AMD “had it.” According to the report, too many of the parts ended up being faulty and AMD lost the deal.

Sources also said AMD had proposed a low-power processor named “Brazos” for a revamp of the Apple TV box, but Apple declined to go with the option. “Brazos” went on to make inroads in the netbook industry and reportedly kept the company afloat.

“If Brazos had been killed, AMD wouldn’t be in business,” one former employee said.

A separate report from late last year also claimed that Apple had considered the AMD “Llano” option “plan A” for its MacBook Air, but AMD was said to have “dropped the ball” at the last minute.

Apple released the Thunderbolt MacBook Air last July with Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors powering the notebooks. The machines became an instant success and reportedly jumped to 28 percent of the company’s notebook shipments just months after they were released.

Apple begins offering 13.3-inch MacBook Air notebook to education buyers for $999

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Date: Monday, February 13th, 2012, 07:52
Category: MacBook Air, News

Apple’s tres-nifty white MacBook notebook may have officially gone the way of the dodo last week, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a replacement in the works.

Per AppleInsider, the company has begun selling a less powerful version of its 13.3-inch MacBook Air to educational institutions buying in bulk for US$999, filling the void left by the recently discontinued white MacBook.

The new model, only available to education buyers ordering in bulk sizes of five or more, features the same internal components as the 11.6-inch MacBook Air available to general consumers for US$999. But the new, discounted hardware sports a larger 13.3-inch display. They are advertised to ship within three to five days.

The 13.3-inch education model and the entry-level 11.6-inch MacBook Air both feature a 1.6GHz dual-core Core i5 Intel processor, along with two gigabytes of RAM and a 64-gigabyte solid-state drive. They are also powered by the Intel HD Graphics 3000 chipset included on the Core i5 CPU.

The standard 13-inch consumer-level MacBook Air remains priced at US$1,299. The speedier machine has a 1.7GHz dual-core Core i5 Intel CPU, 4 gigabytes of RAM, and a 128-gigabyte solid-state drive.

Last July, Apple discontinued its white MacBook, which previously served as the entry-level notebook in Apple’s lineup. Its price point was filled by the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which carries the same US$999 cost.

Apple continued offering the white MacBook to education buyers for months, but this week the company finally ceased sales of the legacy notebook. Resellers have since been notified that the white MacBook is now classified as “end of life.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.